Winter in Clovelly. Blog by Ellie Jarvis
In many respects time has stood still here in Clovelly and for most, the hustle and bustle of modern life seems to melt away as you set foot on the famously steep cobbled street. People are naturally fascinated by the difficulties and quirks of living in such a beautiful and unique village and I’m often asked what it’s like to live here.
Clovelly is privately owned, and although many thousands of visitors enjoy the village during the summer season, visiting during the quiet winter months often gives a greater sense of what it’s like to live here in the village.
For many, the idea of walking up the cobbles just once can be a rather daunting prospect, but here in Clovelly, there is a thriving community and every single day, residents walk up and down the cobbled street to go to work, for the school-run, to get shopping etc. As a resident, there is a fascinating juxtaposition; living with one foot in the past (as history plays such an important part of everyday life here) alongside the demands and complexities of our contemporary society.
Even in the most inclement weather, just as during the summer months, residents rely on their sledges. Each sledge is unique and a vital piece of equipment for Clovelly families, to bring shopping home, as well as furniture when moving. Beer barrels for The New Inn are all sledged down the hill and even our rubbish is taken away by sledge.
Living as I do, in a very special cottage situated in the harbour, I feel a real responsibility to honour the unique history of the building and to look after the property. Twice a day, the tide creeps up across the pebbles and laps at our cottage. Until I lived here, I hadn’t appreciated the powerful connection between the tides and moon phases. When the sun lines up with the moon and earth during a New Moon or a Full Moon, the tidal movement increases. This is a Spring Tide (named not for the season, but because the water ‘springs’ higher than normal). If there are strong winds during such a high tide, there is a very real possibility that waves could wash straight into the houses along Fish Street and the rough sea could dash pebbles through our windows!
These are times when the village stands still. Residents gather safely on the cobbled street to watch as the full force of nature crashes against the harbour wall. We are reminded of just how powerful the ocean can be.